Grays Peak (14,270'), Torreys Peak (14,267'), Mt. Edwards
April 17-19, 1998
Gina Pasquale, Steve Doorn, Jim Dennis, Eric Ponslet, Lucie Parietti, Norman
Hunter, James Hunter, David Hunter
I organized this trip as a way of fulfilling my desire to
climb a 14'er in April. Having been unable to summit a 14'er in April for many
years past, I had my hopes high for this trip!
We left Los Alamos in a snowstorm, at 7am Friday morning.
We were headed for the Peru Creek Trailhead near Keystone Ski Area. We arrived
at the trailhead around 1:30 pm. Most of us were on snowshoes. Eric & Lucie
started up a couple hours ahead of us on skis, so they chose the campsite in
It was a nice site in the trees, around 11,100'. We had a
winter-like camp, even though it is technically spring! Norman and his sons dug
snow trenches to sleep in. They are quite experienced at this, getting the
trenches up in about an hour. It started snowing/grappling at around 6pm, but we
were pretty comfortable in our camp by then. We were shooting for a 6am
departure for the climb on Saturday. But when it is 18 degrees F and winter out
We were on the trail by 6:30, not bad. It was snowing
lightly, but you could see the ridgelines in the distance. We headed directly E
from camp, for the SW flank of Grays. The snow was in pretty good condition, but
we used precautions to avoid avalanche danger. The steepest part of our snow
climb was around 30 degrees. We then got to the windblown SW ridge of Grays and
were scrambling up snow covered rocks, with some occasional icy spots. Everyone
was keeping a good pace, despite heavy packs. Amazingly, there was very little
wind! At around 13'000, I noticed a couple of large mountain goats on a side
ridge in front of us! We watched them for awhile, and as we headed up, a baby
mountain goat appeared between the 2 adult goats! I think they were just hanging
out in the sunshine, as there wasn't much vegetation that high. We got to the
summit of Grays at about 11 am, in sunshine with a cold wind kicking up.
We were all pretty bushed, but we were eyeing our next
objective: climb another mountain? I wanted to head for Mt. Edwards, since I
have my sights set on climbing the "Centennials" (the 100 highest mountains in
CO), but some other folks wanted to climb Torreys, being another 14’er. And Eric
& Lucie were checking out the S. face of Grays for a nice ski descent. So, we
split up into 3 groups. The skies were clear and I felt confident that everyone
would be successful in their choice.
Steve, James and I headed for Edwards. We dropped 900' to
the saddle between Grays & Edwards. The snow was getting very soft and the ridge
was quite steep. The sun was starting to beat down on us and I was getting very
worried about avalanche danger. We all agreed that it was the right decision to
turn back. It is always hard to give up on a summit bid, but the mountain will
be there for next time. We headed back up to the summit of Grays.
Meanwhile, Norman, David and Jim went to the summit of
Torreys. The ridge to Torreys is very mild: a wide ridge, about a mile long,
with only a 500' drop. We watched them from the summit of Grays. And, we could
also see that Eric and Lucie had a nice ski down off of Grays. Nice tele turns!!
They made trax back to camp.
The 6 of us regrouped at a saddle below Grays, at about
13,500'. We stayed together and got some glissading in. We were all back at camp
at around 4:30pm. Happy Hour started a little later, at 5:30, since we all had
to melt snow for water. It was a nice, quiet evening, pretty skies, no snow
falling, a very peaceful winter camp.
The next morning, we packed up and headed out the trail.
Eric and Lucie were lucky to have skis. They were the last ones to leave camp,
but flew past us on their skis! We were at the trailhead by 11am. On the way
back, we stopped for lunch at the Ranch Restaurant in Fairplay. (Great apple
pie!) It was a fun and successful trip! And now I can say: "I've climbed a 14'er
in every month of the year! Oh Boy!!